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TCATHERINE­MAXWELL-STU­ART,44, was­bor­nat900-year-oldTraquai­rHouse, In­ner­lei­then,Pee­b­lesshire,an­dlives there­with­herbar­ris­ter­hus­bandMark, 44,and­chil­drenIs­abella,11,Louis, eight,andChar­lotte,six.She­says:

HIS house was a royal hunt­ing lodge for the kings and queens of Scot­land and later a de­fence tower against English in­va­sion. It has been lived in as a fam­ily home for more than 500 years by my fam­ily, the Stu­arts.

It has no real his­tory of vi­o­lence but I have al­ways felt there are lots of benev­o­lent pres­ences.

Back in the Twen­ties we had a young farm­hand called An­drew Brown work­ing on the es­tate. He lived here all his life and was very down to earth and hon­est, so the fam­ily al­ways be­lieved what he told us.

He’d been work­ing in the joiner’s shop when he be­came aware of the sound of some­one walk­ing out­side. Go­ing to the door he saw a woman ap­proach­ing, dressed in the style of the pre­vi­ous cen­tury.

An­drew watched in amaze­ment as she walked straight through the lit­tle gate – without stop­ping to open it – and into the joiner’s shop, then through the gate on the other side and across the old av­enue lead­ing up to the house. He was re­ally un­nerved by it. De­ter­mined to get to the bot­tom of his strange en­counter, he con­tacted a friend whose grand­mother had been a dress­maker to Lady Louisa Stu­art, sis­ter to the last Earl of Traquair.

Sam­ples of ma­te­rial she had used to make clothes for Lady Louisa had been passed to her grand­daugh­ter and, looking through them, An­drew found the very ma­te­rial of the dress worn by the mys­te­ri­ous lady that he had seen.

From the de­scen­dant of one of her gardeners, he also dis­cov­ered the old lady’s reg­u­lar walk had been around the av­enue be­fore the joiner’s shop had been built. Why she vis­ited An­drew Brown, though, re­mains an un­solved mys­tery.

Most peo­ple who come here feel re­laxed rather than fright­ened, ex­cept for my chil­dren’s friends who are ab­so­lutely ter­ri­fied by the thought of ghosts. They have great chil­dren’s par­ties here be­cause we have a se­cret stair­way where the priests used to hide, and they con­jure up their own ghosts.

This week­end we are open for our Hal­lowe’en ghost tours. We’ve got a trea­sure trail, ghost sto­ries, owls and a spooky pas­sage ex­pe­ri­ence!

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